Saluki bats go dormant in series loss to Jacksonville State


Senior outfielder Jake Hand spins his batter’s helmet on his finger Saturday, March 25, 2017, during the second of a three-game series against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The Salukis beat the Gamecocks 5-4 at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

By Denton "Gio" Giovenco

Southern struggled in all facets of the game in Sunday’s series finale, losing 7-0 to Jacksonville State to drop the weekend series 1-2.

Sunday did not begin on a positive note for SIU, with senior starting pitcher Joey Marciano struggling mightily in his first inning of work.

Marciano threw 37 total pitches to get through the inning, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, two walks and one wild pitch. One of the hits Marciano allowed was a three-run home run to Jacksonville State’s clean-up hitter first baseman Trent Simpson, on an 0-2 count.


“We give up a three-run home run on an 0-2 pitch and all of a sudden it’s 3-0,” coach Ken Henderson said. That’s not a good start.”

Marciano would struggle through a total of 3.2 innings Saturday, allowing five total runs (four earned) on four hits and five walks while striking out five before exiting the game. Marciano threw 90 total pitches in his start Sunday.

“Joey didn’t have any command,” Henderson said. “He’s not gonna get people out if he doesn’t start throwing the ball where he wants to.”

Senior pitcher Austin McPheron relieved Marciano and only needed one pitch to close out the fourth inning for the Salukis.

McPheron ran into trouble in the fifth inning, walking the first batter he faced on the way to allowing two runs and three hits in his last inning of work.

“We gave up seven runs in three innings,” Henderson said. “The first inning, the fourth inning and the fifth inning … all three of those innings [began with] a lead-off walk.”

Henderson would go to the bullpen three more times Sunday. Junior pitcher Allen Montgomery, sophomore pitcher Mitch Townsend and senior pitcher Anthony Shimkus combined to shut down Jacksonville State over the final four innings of Sunday’s game to the tune of zero runs on zero hits, allowing only one walk while striking out five.


Saluki reliever’s Townsend and Shimkus only threw 15 pitches to cover the final two innings, with Townsend throwing five of his seven pitches for strikes and Shimkus throwing 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes.

“You’re gonna get beat if you don’t have command and Mitch Townsend proved that,” Henderson said. “Mitch comes in out of the bullpen in the eighth inning, throws five strikes in seven pitches, and gets [Jacksonville State’s] 3-4-5 hitters out.”

Southern’s bats also had a bad day Sunday. Jacksonville State’s starting pitcher senior Joe McGuire had a perfect game through 5.1 innings and a no-hitter through 6.2 innings against the Salukis on Sunday.

Junior second baseman Connor Kopach broke up McGuire’s no-hit bid with a single through the left side of the infield with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning – increasing his streak of games where he has reached base safely to 24 on the season.

The Salukis only managed five hits on the day and no runs against Jacksonville State.

“Bad day in every area,” Henderson said. ” There’s no other way to sum it up. We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t swing well, we didn’t play good defense. Just a bad day.”

The Salukis (12-12) will play two more games against non-conference opponents. They play Arkansas State at 5 p.m. Tuesday at home and Eastern Illinois at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Charleston. After those matchups, SIU begins conference play with a three-game weekend series against Evansville at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Itchy Jones Stadium.

Sports writer Denton “Gio” Giovenco can be reached at or on Twitter @DentonGiovenco.

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